Shakespeare: A Wayward Journey

Shakespeare: A Wayward Journey

Shakespeare: A Wayward Journey

Shakespeare: A Wayward Journey

Synopsis

"Before her death in September 2001, Susan Snyder collected a number of her essays that she felt represented some of her best work in Shakespearean criticism over a period of about three decades. Many of them were written for specific occasions or specific reasons having to do with teaching or with panel discussions before diverse audiences, which she entered into along with others. In the process she contributed some of the best work on Shakespeare that was then extant, as this collection demonstrates. Searching for a principle of organization, Professor Snyder decided that it would be best to arrange the essays in chronological order. The result was a kind of "intellectual autobiography," as she calls it in her Preface, and the title she chose was Shakespeare: A Wayward Journey, since it reflects her travels over the various avenues of Shakespearean criticism." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The essays in this collection were written over a period of some thirty years. Some are linked by a basic approach, such as psychology, or by focus on a common text. Editorial work, brought to conclusion on All's Well That Ends Well, and well advanced on The Winter's Tale before illness caused me to give up the project, led me naturally to explore some aspects of these plays more deeply than was appropriate for inclusion in an introduction. But articles tend to cross categorical boundaries—one of the All's Well spinoffs, considering displacement and deferral in that play, is founded on Lacanian psychology, while a study of Hermione's statue in The Winter's Tale seeks illumination of Leontes' frozen mourning from another line of psychological investigation. Some essays, such as the study of single combat in three Shakespeare plays, have no obvious affinities with any of the others.

Rather than on the one hand arbitrarily choosing a single category for those essays that fit more than one, or on the other hand inventing false connections where no natural ones existed, I decided on a temporal rather than a topical grouping. Arranged chronologically from work done in the sixties onward, these pieces sketch in a kind of intellectual autobiography, which also reflects developments in the larger world of literary criticism.

Earlier essays are essentially New Critical in their address to the plays, with special attention to structure. My early bent to genre criticism, reflected here in the essays on Romeo and Juliet and Othello, as well as in a more extensive study, The Comic Matrix of Shakespeare's Tragedies (Princeton, 1979), arose out of pedagogical need. Students in Swarthmore's double-credit Shakespeare seminars were responsible for the entire dramatic canon—only thirty-seven plays in those days, to be sure, but far too many to discuss even in our lengthy once-a-week sessions. By grouping the works by genre for study and promoting generic thinking, I hoped to provide them a framework for addressing on their own the plays that were slighted in discussion. Whether this approach worked for the students or not, it certainly shaped my own critical thinking for a long time. Dramatic . . .

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